‘Game of Thrones’ Actress On That ‘Worst Nightmare’ Queen Cersei Scene, Don’t Mess With Mama Lion

Ellaria Sand is not dead. She might continue to survive for months or even years … unfortunately for her. Yet we won’t see Ellaria on Game of Thrones again, confirms actress Indira Varma, who played doomed Prince Oberyn’s hot-headed lover. helen-sloan-hbo-photo-111Ellaria and her Sand Snake daughter Tyene were tortured by Cersei in Sunday’s aptly titled episode, “The Queen’s Justice.” The agonizing scene showed Cersei poison Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) with a laced kiss (just as Ellaria fatally poisoned Cersei’s own daughter Mycella last season). Then Cersei verbally tormented a bound and gagged Ellaria, who was left helpless and unable to do anything except watch her daughter slowly perish. The fate of Ellaria Sand is one of the darkest character endings on Thrones yet and will be one that’s largely left to our imagination.  Varma spoke with EW about the pivotal scene.


ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you find out about Ellaria Sand’s fate?
[Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] called me, but I kind of knew already. Obviously there’s lots of trimming going on. It’s all coming to a head and you have to get rid of less important characters that the audience hasn’t had the chance to invest in as much. So I was expecting it. I wasn’t heartbroken. And I was like, “As long as I die on screen…” and they were like “Yeah!” But of course I don’t die on screen. I stay alive, I’m just not going to reappear. I think it’s really clever.

It’s more haunting, I think, doing it this way…
It’s really dark. What I love about this scene is you’re reading it and from one sentence to the next you don’t know what’s going to happen — how Cersei is going to treat her victim. I just thought the delivery of that information was so clever. Especially since the kiss comes before the information.


What was it like shooting that scene?
It was hard work. A lot of blood snot and sweat and tears. Myself and Rosabell had to be shackled. They very kindly put some felt inside the handcuffs so we didn’t get bruised and battered — though we ended up doing that anyway because your acting takes over. The shackles kept coming off so they had to tighten them and then we couldn’t get them off at all. At the end of the day I was like, “I’m stuck! I need somebody to help me!” and they had to cut me out of them. All in a day’s work.


It probably helps getting into Ellaria’s mindset by having something to pull against.
Definitely, any human being that is trapped by somebody else — not only trapped but her daughter is trapped as well. As a parent, all I need to do is think about that and you get [into that mindset] as an actor pretty quickly. But the older I get the more I just leave myself alone in my work. I don’t need to beat myself up before a take. I just go there in my thoughts. I don’t have to think about my dead cat or anything. I like that sense of play.

“Game of Thrones” airs Sunday nights at 9PM only on HBO.  And follow “Game of Thrones AfterWord” for all breaking news on Facebook.     And to see 11 photos from tomorrow night’s episode click here!
Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Helen Sloan/HBO
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